On Changing My Name

After a long delay, I am officially Carina Devi.

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I never believed in taking my husband’s name, but I did it anyway because I had thoughts like…

“People will call me Mrs. Hislastname anyway”…

…”What if we run into problems at school because my child and I don’t share the same last name?”…

And, a part of me really liked the ring of a family unit with the same last name. The Joneses, The Smiths, etc. There was some part of my dream of Family wrapped up in sharing a name.

While I never regretted changing my name when I got married, it wasn’t long before I realized that I missed having my own. Comments like “oh, you’re so and so’s wife” irked me like no other and my inner raging feminist would fill her throat with shouts that were never shared.

I strongly desired a name that was mine.

But change it to what? Mead, my maiden name, no longer resonated. It belonged to my past self, the one who lived in the dark, whose mind was an antagonistic place, and who had all those attachments to dysfunctional family.

I decided to choose something new, and the first thing that popped into mind was Devi. If Harrison had been a girl, I would have strongly advocated for my daughter to be named this.  It means “shining one” and is also the root word for goddess in Sanskrit.

At the time, I was in the habit of staying small. Devi felt like a bold name to take, and out of fear of standing out or embodying anything resembling power, I continued to search the Sanskrit glossaries of my favorite books.

I always came back to Devi. I began to try it on once news of the divorce was public, and first debuted it at an Eclipse festival in Unity, Oregon, where I was teaching yoga.

Just before the final class and two hours before the great solar eclipse, a robust Indian man walked up to me, and asked, in his beautiful accent, “You are Carina Devi?”

Something settled so deep in my being upon hearing that – it’s correct pronunciation (like thay-vee) was such a beautiful sound, and to be able to proudly say “Yes I am!” felt like solidifying the Self I was reclaiming through the process of divorcing my husband.

It was that class where I finally gave myself permission to embody all parts of me, and not censor myself for fear of being stereotyped as “the hippie yoga teacher”, or being seen as full of myself. I let my heart speak in every moment of that class, infusing the astrology of the eclipse, and ending in a circle, facing each other in tree pose, as we shared three Om’s. I shared that after the eclipse, the first star we’ll see is Regulus, the Heart of the Lion. Leo asks us to walk in courage, and to lead with an open heart – this was precisely my lesson through that eclipse season – leading from the heart for myself, my child, and my community, and remembering how to be the Queen of my own life.

After we finished a delicious, long savasana, a woman walked up to me and shared that it was the best yoga class she had ever taken!!! Talk about confirmation! I thanked her profusely, and walked away feeling like I had stepped onto the path of my personal power completely.

No more fear. No more doubts.

Trusting every drop of my inner knowing, and letting the intuition that had directed me to that place in life to continue to steer me forward.

Since then, life has opened up in the most astounding, beautiful ways, and I continue to explore the path of what it means to fully embody myself, my values, and to own my power as a sovereign woman.

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Rolling Out The Mat

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Art by Shee Visual Design

Stuck, stagnant, controlling and dense
My brow is furrowed
And jaw is tense
My muscles have hardened with anxiety and fear
I’m not sure how to break out of this thunder I feel

How long has it been since I stepped on my mat?
I pushed it and pushed it and let everything else win
“I’m too tired” I said, “I’ll be fine without it”
Fine is how I feel, but it’s not thriving or vibrant or free, dammit

So I roll out my mat
And I bring to it all the rigidity, all stuckness, all of that

A down dog reveals the stagnation in form – where all those familiar emotions have been stored
I flow through as I listen, allowing my body to do its work
It’s innately intelligent and knows more than my brain
Which has been working long hours without many breaks

Long holds that allow gunky memories to bubble to the surface
Give way to flowing Vinyasa, as I breathe heat into my inner furnace
The memories flow and their emotions are freed
I didn’t realize how much I had tucked under the seams
Going from task to task and place to place
And mothering requires such self-regulation, all this stuff has been getting stuffed into some unknown place

And now I see where I’ve kept it all
In my psoas and temples and shoulders and toes
In the muscles and fascia and blood vessels and bones
These emotions and memories aren’t stored somewhere “out there”
They’re allocated to databases in my body that need to be aired
So I flow and breathe and moan and I seethe
And I let all these stuck parts of me effervesce to the surface to moan and to roar and to breathe

They clear through my breath and they feel light as air
Leaving a freshly cleared space where they once were, there

My spine is now free to articulate and roll
And my rib cage actually moves, spiraling in space, in any direction it asks to flow
And my calves are like putty – content, supple and long
And my hands are now twirling, in the air, before they prove themselves supportive and strong
And my neck is free and long again
And my toes spread out in any and all directions
And my inner thighs sigh as they stretch in prasarita
And my heart and mind no longer feel stuck either

The dark, roaring, humid thoughts
Have been exhaled out of the way
And now clear blue, vast open space is all that remains
The space thats always there, no matter my state

I imagine those heavy, tarry feelings that lifted from my heart
Are floating up to the sun like balloons drifting apart
What’s left is a clear, glowing space in my chest
Where there’s room for love to flow to myself, my son, my Beloved and the rest

It pours from me like a waterfall
Glowing pink liquid flowing to everything, everywhere

It’s here that I realize the space that I am
And that what is flowing through me IS what I am
I AM just this space, and I AM just this knowing
And everything else is an illusion that I can keep from growing

So I will practice and practice and let awareness grow
So that I can help others to know what I know
That as Hafiz says, I am the hole in the flute through which the divine plays it’s song
And being played feels like bliss
And I can be played, and I can also sing along

It doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be tense
Life can be light and harmonious, and sometimes it has to be wild and intense
And perhaps if I keep breathing and moving and rolling out that mat
I’ll come to a place where I no longer need to clear out all of that

Mountain Lion Medicine

I wrote this after Mountain Lion began showing up in my dreams. She was benevolent and led me around the mountains that surround my home, and eventually to the overlook on my favorite hike, where I often feel this animal’s presence. One dream in particular left me feeling the warmest, coziest, most loving Mama Mountain Lion purring and cuddling me in bed, her cheek rubbing against mine. I awoke feeling completely enveloped in this energy and sought to understand these messages deeper. According to Medicine Cards, “If Mountain Lion comes to you in dreams, it is a time to stand on your convictions and lead yourself where your heart takes you”. Mountain Lion teaches us to lead with strength, grace, intention, and balanced power. She prioritizes truth telling, peacekeeping, and leading by example.

November 14, 2017

Mountain Lion, sweet mother Goddess of strength
Carry me on your back and show me your ways
Take me to the mountainside where we unzip portals to consciousness
Letting the seams melt down onto the valley below
Inspiring, changing, spreading beauty, peace, and weaving community

Reveal to me the deeper mysteries of my power

Teach me the tender heart that inspires your purrs
The grounded energy of your bones as your paws kiss the Earth
The passion with which you dive toward threats and pounce on your prey
Walk with me through this time and show me the ways of your mastery

For I am ready to be a master, too.

Unharnessed

November 14, 2017

I am unharnessed
Glowing underneath my skin, wild and free
I have made a home in the space of divine solitude

I am the Phoenix mother, having returned from the purifying fire, renewed, recharged, recalibrated

I am a pulsing magnet
Calling in love, light, magic and mystery
A grounding station for ether to settle into
A portal for dreams and messages to swim in
A channel for wisdom and knowing to flow through

Universe, tell me your secrets and trust me to be a messenger

I am ready to listen, and to speak

PMS is a Holistic Tool for Revealing the Truth

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Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanos

There is an unfortunate narrative about PMS that paints women as temporarily irrational, unreliable, and emotionally-driven. From an outside perspective, and without a clear understanding of its purpose, it can certainly seem this way. In my experience, the reasons for these changes are clear and not at all irrational.

I notice a clear correlation between suppressing my voice and experiencing a slow build-up of tension and irritation as I approach my moontime. I have experienced many times that if I resist the urges of my body and continue to swallow my words, I can actually prevent my blood from flowing, until I open my mouth and let the truth out. 

I see PMS as a powerful holistic tool for discerning the truth, opening the throat chakra, and allowing energy to flow in preparation for moontime (sacral and root chakra opening, and arguably, an opening of all the chakras). The wisdom that settles in to those freshly-cleared spaces is like nothing else, and its available to childbearing-age women every single month.

My Ode to PMS:

Along the winding, spiraling path of Mother, Partner, Teacher, Sister, Friend
There is an ebb and flow that dances with the moon
And each month, the magma in my caldera churns up the feminine fire that lies dormant in my blood until the Moon is full

Then, my skin becomes hot and prickly
My tongue sharpens and my perfect aim battles with my soft heart, begging it to be gentle 
The fresh heat in my blood draws up all that has become restless under the current of my awareness
It rises up my throat like hot steam
All the words swallowed, tongues bitten, suppressed emotions and undervalued opinions
Burn hotter and hotter until their steam burns an opening at the top of my throat and I must open my mouth and SPEAK
With firey truth, I speak all that has been unspoken 
With the pressure released, like lifting the violently rattling lid off an overflowing stockpot 
An atmospheric change whispers in through freshly opened windows

The spirit of the Medicine Woman asks to inhabit my body for these four days of release, and I bow to welcome her in
I realize that the uncomfortable electricity of my skin, the bloat of my belly, and the sore ache of my inner thighs and hips is present to plunge me into solitude

And so I lock the doors, prepare the tea, clear the space, and I sit

Tall spine, energy flowing
Womb throbbing, deep knowing
Writing like a river, I don’t know where my pen is going
I take my monthly seat in the High Priestess throne
Offering this mother a glimmer of the Wisdom that will flow when she gains the honored title of Crone

The Most Psychedelic Experience of My Life

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Its hard to convey what this weekend meant to me. I’ll tell you about some of the profound moments I had, but know that this weekend felt like an integral step forward in the process of what I call ‘remembering myself home’.

You see, ever since the first yoga festival I attended when my son turned one, where tears streamed down my face during the entire hour-long satsang, I made a commitment to give myself at least one ‘treat-yo-self’ yoga immersion per year. I find that each time I immerse myself in yoga for a few days at a time, I find myself drenched in serenity, flooded with visions, insights and epiphanies, and remembering some vital part of myself that I had forgotten.

I was so excited for this weekend, not only because of it being my first teacher training module, but because of the topic: Kundalini and Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is what my parents practiced and what I spent so much of my childhood immersed in. Still, even with a lifetime of experience, I don’t think I really “got it” until this weekend.

Having not practiced Kriya in nearly a decade, I found myself in fields of awareness that I had forgotten existed. I experienced massive forward leaps in my meditation practice and personal growth. It was like a jolt of electricity ran through my body and suddenly I jumped to a point in my personal evolution that I didn’t imagine I would reach for years, if not decades. In visiting this way of meditating and exploring my consciousness, I found myself remembering things about my childhood that I had completely forgotten.

I also had the most psychedelic experience of my life, and it was completely natural. Allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is Holotropic Breathwork.

So, its Saturday afternoon during the first module of yoga teacher training. Me, the 17 other trainees, and our teacher Rainbow Eric (oh yeah!) are slated to experience a “Group Breathwork Journey”, according to our schedule. Now, we’ve been meditating and doing lots of yoga together for the last two days, so a “group breathwork journey” seemed like just another activity.

We were guided to lay down and get comfortable, settling in for an hour-long savasana. All 25 of us settled onto the floor with our eye pillows and bolster-fortresses and layers of blankets, ready to chill the fuck out. Eric explains that what we’re about to experience can be intense – that we might move involuntarily, that we might confront difficult emotions or past experiences, and that if at anytime we need extra guidance, to flag him down for support. He mentions that what we’re about to do has the potential to cause a flood of DMT in the body (DMT is a psychedelic compound that is naturally produced by the human body and some plants. Read more about this fascinating stuff here).  I don’t think much of it and I settle easily into my mat. We begin a focused breath and soft music begins to play. Aww yisss. I live for this shit.

At first, this seems like any other savasana, but before I know it, I’m going DEEP: All the way in, and farther out than I’ve ever been. I begin to have memories that I haven’t thought of in ages: dreams I had when I was pregnant, moments from my childhood that I had forgotten, etc. I notice that the slightest changes in my position bring up different memories. I begin to touch each of my fingers to my thumb, and each mudra is like a coordinate for a specific memory. I find that switching back and forth between my index and middle finger takes me back and forth between a moment from giving birth and my son as a baby. I can switch back and forth between the two just by pressing a different finger to my thumb. That’s neat, I think.

I let my hand rest and go further. I’m not thinking about my body. I’m not in my head. I’m just fully experiencing the moment – breathing deep and slow and delicious, body totally surrendered to gravity and feeling like every cell in my being is lit up from inside.

I hear a symphony of happy, blissful exhales around me and realize that I’m part of the orchestra. Even though each of us is having our own very internal experience, there is a subtle external synthesis between us. Choruses of inhales and extravagant sighs come in waves that roll across the dark, palo santo-scented room.

At one point, my knees begin to shake, and I remember what Eric said about involuntary movements. I remember the time in belly dancing class when our teacher mentioned that we hold our fear of change in our knees. I resist any urges to stop them and just let them shake. The movement begins to travel up my body and it feels like an orgasm. Before I know it, my entire body is vibrating. I’m smiling the widest, cheek-squeezing, joyful smile, feeling my being so incredibly ALIVE, and suddenly I am laughing the loudest, happiest, most blissful laughter I’ve ever laughed, and it sets off a chain reaction around the room. There is an 18-person giggle fit happening and none of us can see each other. My perception of time is completely non-existent, but I estimate this room full of laughter rolled for a good 7 minutes. As it dies down, I begin to cry. Not a sad or painful cry,just a release. Shaking, to laughing, to crying: its like one orgasm after another, and I feel like I’m processing in minutes what would otherwise take years of work.

I am going even deeper within, and even deeper without. Deeper and deeper in both directions – out in space and into my atoms.

The music that started out as soft and meditative is now fast-paced and dramatic. The music is guiding our experience and I am going so deep and fast that I begin to feel scared and nauseated. I pull away from the nausea and realize I cannot go deeper unless I move through it. I’m afraid of what could happen – the last thing I want to do is throw up, let alone in a room full of people blissfully peacing out.

I lift up my eye pillow and look for Eric – I want help, but he is assisting someone else. I realize I must navigate this alone, and I begin to find my way out through my thoughts, spinning through anxiety and being reminded of the times I smoked too much pot and couldn’t relax. Soon enough, Eric guides us out. I’m relieved. We are instructed to take it easy and slow, and give ourselves time to come back. All I can think about is how badly I need to pee.

I make my way to the bathroom, attempting to hurry, but I feel like I’m wading through molasses. I am so out of my body that I can’t even feel my bare feet on the hardwood floor. Eventually, I make it the 40 feet to the bathroom and sit down to pee. I can’t feel anything. I feel like a mass of particles, not connected in anyway, but just existing in a blissful hum. I begin to pee and finally I can feel sensation – a single ring of warmth where the pee is leaving my body – I feel like I suddenly have a sensory map of the nerves of my urethra (did I mention that TMI is a regular thing I offer?). My body is so relaxed I consider just staying here and melting into the toilet seat.

Someone knocks on the door, so I find my way out of the bathroom. I realize that its been a few minutes since we came out of our journey, but I’m still not back. I feel like I’m just as aware of my existence in 7 other dimensions as you are of your physical body right now. I realize that I have always inhabited these other planes of existence, but this DMT flood I’m experiencing has deconstructed the illusion that glues them all together. I see them like floating, parallel transparencies. A part of me doesn’t want to come back.

I’m used to it taking a minute or two to come all the way back from a meditation or savasana, but this is totally different. Some part of me feels like its not okay that I’m not back in my body all the way yet.

I look for Eric for guidance, and he is talking to Jimi, one of the first takers of my giggle fit invitation. I stay nearby, waiting for them to finish their conversation so that I can be next in line to talk to Eric. I’m desperate for someone to help me ground. As I wait around, I feel weird that I’m just hovering near them, but their conversation is actually helping me. They’re talking about LSD and shrooms and suddenly I have a reference point for much of what I’m feeling. I continue to listen as I hazily peruse the crystal jewelry display behind Jimi – I’m looking for something, anything to help ground me – nothing strikes me. I move on to the essential oils – I settle for a bottle of Wild Orange and inhale deeply, but I’m still SO out there. Why am I feeling so uneasy?

I realize that I no longer hear Eric and Jimi’s conversation, so I turn around, but Eric is nowhere to be found. Whatever look I was wearing on my face must have been telling, because Jimi made eye contact and said “Oh, hey, come here” and brought me in for a warm, tight hug. It was exactly what I needed. We shared a few “Whoa, I’m high as fuck and I didn’t take drugs” exchanges. It was so genuine and comfortable and I suddenly felt like I could be off flying through other star systems and it would be totally cool because Jimi said it was cool.

The group reconvenes and we begin to share experiences. I asked about my experience with nausea, which was still coming in waves, and we discussed emotional states that bring up nausea, and why we experience it with psychedelics. Again, putting something in reference to shrooms or acid makes it all make sense (thanks, wild teenage years!).

After our sharing circle, we are guided to do some more Kriyas, but everytime I begin to run energy through my body, the nausea rears its woozy head again. I also have a headache. I decide to just sit and breathe, trying my best not to follow the words of guidance floating into my ears.

The day is over, and all I want to do is to go back to my Air BnB, shower and pass out, but it’s a Saturday night in downtown Boise and there is a 30-person long line I have to stand in to pay for parking. I do my best to seem normal around the middle-aged theatre-goers that surround me, even though I feel acutely aware of the expansive, formless nature of my being. I wish that in some way I could bestow upon them the knowledge of the infinite state of their being, and how much more there is to life than just this 3D world.

Finally, I get home and shower, eat some leftovers, and pass out. I am fucking spent. I lie in bed, vacillating between how amazing I feel, how shitty I feel, and wondering how the hell I experienced all those amazing feelings just by lying down and breathing.

The next morning, I wake up and all I can think is “I can’t wait to do that again”.

Late Pregnancy Mindfulness & Delight

Another from my pregnancy journal. A mindfulness meditation, of sorts, turned delight at the effect my pregnant body may or may not have on people 😉

April 19th, 2015

Yesterday I watched the geese fly North for the Summer
They soared in circles above our heads, eyeing ponds to land in before setting off on their long journey

Today I listened to pollinators visiting flowers and bringing with them the happiest of buzzing sounds

Today I meditated on my porch, soaking in the last minutes of sunshine
I opened my eyes just in time to witness the last rays of warmth glistening along the tops of the ponderosas before the sun gave its final wink and disappeared behind the mountain

Today I witnessed the intensity of the green shooting out of every leaf, blade of grass, and flower stem
I can almost hear it, its so vibrant

Today I practiced yoga next to a glistening blue lake, listening to the wind and birds, and the gentle whistle of the breeze rushing through the grass
I smiled when two young girls came by while I was in Vrkasana, offering an example of ability, strength and calm, hoping that such a visual would have a positive effect on their sense of femininity

Today, an entire grocery store full of people marveled at how robust and ripe with life I am
They hardly believed I wasn’t 90 weeks pregnant and actively giving birth in the checkout line
Oh, those poor, terrified old men